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Old 08-03-2010, 07:45 PM   #1
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Outdoor unit died -sorta


Came home from errands and my kid says that the A/C quit. Played around with the thermostat-no joy.
I went out side to to the unit an flipped the breaker on and off and got a bit of a grinding sound and the fan moved but not even a full turn. Played with the thermostat some more and went back outside and threw the breaker again and got the same symptom and when I tapped on the top plate near the fan, the fan slowly started then fired full up. Seemed to get cool but shortly there after, quit cooling-fan also off.

My handy father in law came by and we pulled the shroud off and took some voltages. Dead at the relay, dead at the outside breaker. Inside breaker had tripped but when I re-set it, it stayed red. Father in law re-set the relay and then both breakers re-set and got 120 volts at the outside breaker (supposed to be 240 isn't it?)

He says he thinks the relay is shot. Easy to find? Fix?
Odd thing, with both breakers open-if he jabs the relay with a screwdriver, it buzzes like it's getting power. What the heck? I don't want to play around with replacing a relay or capacitor (both look OK to my untrained eye)-if there is somehow still voltage floating around.

Do relays fail? Easy to find and replace?
Any thoughts on the buzzing with no power applied?

Thanks.

JB

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Old 08-04-2010, 12:11 PM   #2
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Outdoor unit died -sorta


Are you sure you turned off the correct breakers? Relays do fail. Good chance though that your fan motor and or capacitor are bad.

If he read 120 volts. Good chance he wasn't using the meter properly. You don't check to ground for 240 volts.

If he got 120 volts reading across both poles. Could be that your main breaker in your panel is tripped on one side. It doesn't happen often, but it does happen sometimes.

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Old 08-04-2010, 07:24 PM   #3
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Outdoor unit died -sorta


I took both caps out and took them to Grainger and had them tested. Both tested good-w/ no signs of bulges or anything.

I gave up and called a pro that I have used before -4 hours later he calls back from vacation with a referral to another guy.

This could get interesting-guy shows up, seems pretty nice, but I notice that every tool and his bag is brand new-tells me stories about being an electrical engineer and such in Kuwait and NYC. Apparently just passed his test-says he made a 100.

Anyway-he pulls the caps and tests them and they they still test good but when he tests all off the connectors on the top of the cap, 2 or 3 of them don't work. Does that make sense? He replaces the suspect one but goes from a 2 way to a 3 way cap-sorry if I'm butchering the terminology-but puts the one he tested good back.

Tried to re-start everything and all we get is a humming from the fan motor.
He pronounced the fan motor as shot (spins freely) and goes to his truck to get the motor (1/4 hp motor I think he says)-Opens the fan in the box and the top end housing has a big crack in it like it's been dropped.

Coming back tomorrow with another fan. BTW-Quote around $500 for the fan-old system-hard to find I guess-the caps was something like $160 installed. Seems high.

Did I get bad advice on the cap replacement? Logical that one or two connectors on a cap could fail without the whole cap testing bad?

Thanks.
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Old 08-04-2010, 07:45 PM   #4
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Outdoor unit died -sorta


Best way to check a cap is under load. And that can only be done when the motor is working. Could be that the cap opens under load.
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Old 08-04-2010, 07:56 PM   #5
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Outdoor unit died -sorta


Gotcha.

Does seem more responsive with the new cap-although all I get is the motor buzzing. Guess I'll know more tomorrow. Getting hot in here and they way my other zone has been pushing all day, it's gonna need some attention soon probably. I put it on 79 just to keep it from burning up trying to keep up.


JB
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Old 08-05-2010, 02:36 PM   #6
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Outdoor unit died -sorta


why do they always charge so friggin' much for a capacitor and always want to replace them? easy money i guess.
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Old 08-05-2010, 02:54 PM   #7
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Outdoor unit died -sorta


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why do they always charge so friggin' much for a capacitor and always want to replace them? easy money i guess.
The capacitor is the single most problematic component in an HVAC system. It's also one of the cheapest repairs so I'd hardly call it "easy money" for the pros. Since so many of the techs are on commission they probably say "oh crap" when the diagnosis turns out to be a simple cap.

The question is why there's an epidemic of crappy capacitors that only last a couple years. The fact that they're made in China and Mexico can probably explain part of it.
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Old 08-05-2010, 03:01 PM   #8
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Outdoor unit died -sorta


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The capacitor is the single most problematic component in an HVAC system. It's also one of the cheapest repairs so I'd hardly call it "easy money" for the pros. Since so many of the techs are on commission they probably say "oh crap" when the diagnosis turns out to be a simple cap.

The question is why there's an epidemic of crappy capacitors that only last a couple years. The fact that they're made in China and Mexico can probably explain part of it.
$160 is ridiculous, no matter how you slice it.
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Old 08-05-2010, 03:26 PM   #9
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Outdoor unit died -sorta


Guy shows up this morning with a new fan. Has a helper in tow. Says he's in the residential sales dept-I suspect either son-in-law or something. They pop in a new fan and feed the wires through the housing to the electrical bay and after a couple of minutes of the "helper" trying to get the wires through the water grommet that they pulled out to replace the fan, he gives up and lay the grommet aside and continues on wiring the fan. I guess "helper" didn't think I'd notice that being left off. Next "helper" is crimping cap connectors to get ready to make connections. Soon "helper" is buttoning everything up (much to my surprise since he left the caps hanging the wires and didn't bother to put a couple of pieces of shielding back in side the wiring bay.) I asked "helper" about it and he said "you don't need all of that stuff." Scuse' me?

I gave him a funny l look and opened up the wiring bay only to find that one of his crimps had already pulled out and another pulled out when I pulled on it a tiny bit-sheesh! I fired "helper" on the spot.

When AC guy comes back out I tell him the news and he takes about 1/2 re-crimping-he wasn't much good at it either but at least they stayed together.

Got everything back in place and wired up correctly -I think anyway- fired it up. No joy-circuit break tripped. Square one.

Now AC guy runs continuity on the compressor, pronouncing it dead.

Two legs read 17 ohm (I think)-other leg read .04 ohms (I think)-he says the their leg should equal 1st leg plus second leg or 34 in this case. Make sense?

So, I told AC guy we were done, write up an invoice and leave. I said something to AC guy about "helper" in front of him (I guess he'd been sitting in the truck for 2-3 hours) and he smarted off to me, so I told him to leave the property or be arrested for trespass.

Nice day huh?

I asked AC guy why he didn't test the compressor continuity before having me throw $7-800 in parts at it. Seems to me he should have done that before.

No time to finish.

Comments-suggestions?
JB
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Old 08-05-2010, 03:58 PM   #10
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Outdoor unit died -sorta


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Comments-suggestions?
JB
Call the owner of the company and tell him you're not paying for the "repairs" that did not fix the system.

If he has a top notch tech that he can send over then have him take over. If you have the best his company can offer then hire someone else.
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Old 08-05-2010, 03:59 PM   #11
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Outdoor unit died -sorta


Use another contractor for replacement of the condenser or system. They were just guessing what was wrong.
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Old 08-06-2010, 11:04 AM   #12
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Outdoor unit died -sorta


When he calls, I will tell him to pick up any parts he wants back and hit the road. What an ordeal.

My regular guy called me from vacation with a couple of suggestions and another contact or two. I spoke to one of his other guys and he seems very competent by phone and trying very hard to get me back up and running.

Since this is an older unit compressors are hard to find apparently, my "new" guy had me pull the condenser door off to see if a label was visible-none there, but the condenser is extremely rusty (has the old style metal pan underneath-alreay had one fail a couple of years back.) Handwriting on the wall for the life expectancy of this unit.

Decided to bite the bullet and put in a new AC setup...ouch.
Now have to figure out how to wedge a 30"X30" pad in where the 24"x24" fits.

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